Silkyara (Reuters) – In a breakthrough on Tuesday, the first images surfaced of 41 men trapped for over a week in a 4.5-km tunnel in the Indian Himalayas. The men, stuck since a cave-in on Nov. 12, were seen in a video communicating with rescue workers and are reported to be safe with access to essential provisions.
Authorities have not disclosed the cause of the cave-in, but the region’s susceptibility to landslides, earthquakes, and floods is known. Rescue efforts are hampered by challenges in drilling through debris in the mountainous terrain.
A 30-second video revealed a dozen trapped men in helmets and construction jackets, standing in the tunnel. The clip, shot through a medical endoscopy camera, captured the men confirming their identities via walkie-talkie.
Despite delays due to equipment issues and fears of further collapse, rescuers plan to resume drilling horizontally through debris. Simultaneously, authorities are exploring other plans, including vertical drilling from the mountain’s top.
Psychiatrist Abhishek Sharma, on-site to support the trapped men, reported that they were in good spirits, engaged in light exercises, and encouraged to maintain regular communication. Dr. Prem Pokhriyal emphasized the importance of sleep and cautioned against heavy workouts that could impact air quality.
The trapped men, primarily low-wage workers from India’s north and east, expressed optimism about their situation. Sunita Hembrom, the sister-in-law of one worker, shared his message: “Take care of yourselves, the children, and parents. Just tell us what they are doing to get us out of here.”